Parker baseball tops list of spring standouts
I hate this time of the year, simply because it signals the end of another year of high school sports.
And although summer officially began yesterday, let's look back on a memorable, and for some, record-breaking spring sports season.
Best overall performance by a team
The list is short, not because there weren't many good teams in different sports in the area, but because the category was based more on postseason success.
• The nominees are: Walworth Big Foot baseball, Delavan-Darien girls soccer, Janesville Parker baseball, and Delavan-Darien softball.
Big Foot captured its first Rock Valley Conference title since 2003 and lost to Ripon in a Division 2 sectional title game. The Chiefs, behind left-hander and Rock Valley South player of the year Austin Hoey, won a school-record 21 games.
Delavan-Darien's girls soccer team finished third in the Southern Lakes and was a .500 team during the regular season, but the Comets turned it up a notch in the postseason. Behind one of the flat-out best coaches in any sport, Bruce Mowery, the Comets advanced to a sectional semifinal game in Division 2 before losing to powerhouse McFarland.
Janesville Parker won a school-record 23 games and advanced to a Division 1 state semifinal before losing an 8-7 heartbreaker to eventual champion Sun Prairie.
Delavan-Darien's softball team, behind the arm of sophomore pitcher Jennah Speth, won a school-record 22 games and lost to McFarland in a Division 2 sectional semifinal game.
• And the winner is: Parker baseball. The magical season revitalized baseball in the city and brought hordes of fans down to one of the most historic venues in the state in Riverside Park.
A shout-out has to go to Jefferson baseball. The Eagles did the Rock Valley Conference proud by winning the Division 2 state title in dominating fashion, but since Jefferson is outside our circulation area, they weren't included in the mix.
Best overall performance by a male athlete
This category is full of worthy candidates, but in the end, the decision was an easy one.
• The nominees are: Austin Hoey of Walworth Big Foot, pitcher Hunter Van Zandt of Parker, Janesville Craig triple jumper Ian Reinicke, tennis player Seb Lauterbach of Walworth Big Foot, Whitewater distance runner Brett Harms and Brodhead thrower Logan Maurer.
Hoey, a left-handed flamethrower, put up some ridiculous numbers for the Chiefs. The recent graduate won 12 games and had an ERA below 1.00.
Van Zandt, a junior-to-be, was the Big Eight's player of the year. The left-hander finished 11-1 on the season and allowed two or more earned runs in only two starts.
Reinicke, despite battling a rash of injuries all season, finished third at state in the Division 1 triple jump.
Lauterbach capped off a stellar career by qualifying for the Division 2 state meet for the third year in a row. The recent graduate won his opening-round match before losing a tough one in round two.
Harms put on a show at the Rock Valley Conference Meet. The recent graduate won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs to lead the Whippets to the team title. Harms was fifth at state in the 3,200.
All Maurer did was win two state titles. Big deal.
• And the winner is: Maurer in a landslide. The senior-to-be won Division 2 state titles in shot put and discus—and no one was near him in either event.
Had Parker won the state tournament, Van Zandt would've been a close second.
Best performance by a female athlete
This was the toughest of the categories to choose a winner, so you know what? I'm not going to.
The list of candidates is long, but none of them really distanced themselves from the rest of the pack.
Senior Bryzena Santos of East Troy won the Division 2 long jump, but East Troy is another town on the fringe of our circulation area.
Other area female athletes who made their mark at the state track and field meet were Clinton's Heather Buckler, who was third in the shot put, and Liz Mielke of Whitewater, who was sixth in the 3,200.
No two area softball pitchers were more dominating than Delavan-Darien's Speth and Beloit Turner's Kelsie Packard, and each of them won at least a share of their conference's player of the year honors.
Janesville Craig shortstop Al Hughes earned all-Big Eight first-team honors for the second straight year.
Biggest surprise of the spring
Other than me reaching the ripe old age of 50, the biggest shocker of the spring was the havoc Mother Nature played on the state track and field meet in La Crosse.
Friday's opening day was delayed for several hours by severe storms in the area. Saturday was even worse. The last event of the meet—the Division 1 boys 1,600-meter relay—didn't end until after 10 p.m.
Things got so bad Saturday that several Janesville Craig athletes were forced to go to the nearby apartment of former Cougar athlete Cy Badertscher because fans and athletes were forced to vacate the stadium.
That wraps up another exciting and successful year of high school sports.
I hope everyone has a safe, productive and enjoyable summer.
To those student-athletes that graduated or coaches that retired or resigned, thanks for making my job the best around.
The fall sports season will be here sooner than you think. Two months until Edgerton's Ricky Williams runs amok once again. I can't wait.